Please Don't Let Me Be A Slut
By Ali Owens
When I was in high school, I once overheard two of my male classmates having a discussion about sluts - specifically, how many people a woman could have sex with before she was branded as such. One person? Not a slut. Three people? Borderline. And - god forbid - five? “That’s just nasty,” one of them said. The other nodded in agreement. “Definitely a slut.”
Suddenly, everything became clear. I mean, I’d been wondering. What was the magic number? Five, apparently, and suddenly panicked, I was thinking purely in terms of rationing. If I stepped over that threshold, after all, I’d lose my dignity, my self-worth, and my value. Everything else about me would cease to matter; I’d simply be a slut.
It was literally the worst thing I could be.
As adolescent girls, this is what we learn. The burden of shame is handed down to us when we are very young, and most of us will carry it with us our entire lives. We’re taught that our bodies are inappropriate and that our sexual selves are disgraceful. We’re taught that our self-worth is intrinsically tied in to our sexuality - as though by exercising one, we forgo the other.
Meanwhile, we’re taught that boys will be boys. That if a boy chooses to have a lot of sex, people will simply shrug their shoulders and look the other way. There’s no “slut” brand for him to wear; no scarlet letter of shame.
Many people have tried to tell me the double standards are relatively harmless. Look at what goes on in other parts of the world, they say. Women are killed just for revealing their faces. Indeed they are, and it is sick and cruel and unfair - and that kind of dangerous misogyny is born from the same place as all those seemingly innocuous double standards. Sexual inequity against women exists on a spectrum, and regardless of where each individual struggle falls on that spectrum, these are all battles in the same war.
It’s time to face facts. It is 2016, and we are still living in a world that glorifies masculinity while simultaneously sexualizing and objectifying the female body - a world that breeds predators, then faults the women for being prey. A world in which a woman’s worth is dictated by the length of her skirt and the number of sexual partners she’s had. A world in which being a slut is, to a high school girl, the worst possible outcome. Let me be a liar. Let me be a cheat. Let me be lazy, let me fail my classes, just please, don’t let me be a slut.
For the sake of all our girls, we must do better.
Love this. I feel so sad that yes, its 2016 and we are still having to break this stuff down. I have two daughters and try to give them the tools they will need to feel secure enough within their own selves to be able to make reasoned and individuals decisions on their bodies and sexuality. But its hard when we still live in a world where beautiful boys are discussed in terms of 'ooo, he's gonna break some hearts' and with beautiful girls its 'ooo you want to lock her up when she gets to 16'...